A RENEWED PROPHECY OF MESSIAH AND OF HIS KINGDOM. This chapter is closely connected with the preceding. With the final destruction of Assyria, which, being cut down, sends out no shoot (Isaiah 10:33, Isaiah 10:34), is contrasted the recuperative energy of Israel, which, though equally leveled with the ground (Isaiah 9:18, Isaiah 9:19), shall spring afresh into life, and "renew its youth." The recovery is connected—or rather identified with the coming of Messiah, whose character is beautifully portrayed (Isaiah 11:2-5). An elaborate description of Messiah's kingdom follows (Isaiah 11:6-10)—an expansion of the briefer one in Isaiah 2:3, Isaiah 2:4.
There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse. The blasted and ruined "stem" or stock of Jesse, cut down, and for ages hidden from sight, shall suddenly put forth a sprout—a young green sapling, tender vet vigorous, weak seemingly, yet foil of life (comp. Job 14:7-9, "There is hope of a tree, if it he cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not crease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant"). "The stem of Jesse" must mean the house of David, for there is but one Jesse (Ishai) in Scripture—David's father. A Branch shall grow out of his roots. That which is at first a sapling gains strength and grows into a "branch" (see Isaiah 4:2, where the word used, though different, is synonymous).
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him (comp, Matthew 3:16; Luke 2:40; Luke 4:1, Luke 4:14, Luke 4:18; John 3:34, etc.). The human nature of our Lord required, and received abundantly, the sanctifying and enlightening influences of the Holy Spirit. These influences were not in him transient or occasional, as in too many men, who more or less "resist the Spirit," but permanent and enduring. They "rested upon" him; from first to last never quitted, and never will quit, him. The spirit of wisdom and understanding. The influences of the Holy Spirit are manifold, affecting the entire complex nature of man (see 1 Corinthians 12:8-11). Here, three pairs of graces are set forth as specially manifested in the Messiah through the power of the Spirit:
And shall make him of quick understanding. This rendering of the original, though defended by Dr. Kay, is quite without support from any other passage where the same word is used. Modern writers almost all translate, either "the breath of his nostrils shall be in the fear of the Lord" (Herder, Ewald, Meier, Cheyne), or "a sweet savor shall he find in the fear of the Lord" (Gesenius, Delitzsch, Rosenmüller, Knobel). He shall not judge after the sight of his eyes. "God sooth the heart." Our Lord "knew men's thoughts" (Matthew 9:4, etc.), and therefore did not need to "judge according to the appearance" (John 7:24). Thus his judgments were always righteous.
With righteousness shall he judge the poor (comp. Isaiah 32:1, "A king shall reign in righteousness"). It would be characteristic of the Messiah's rule that the poor should be eared for, that oppression should cease, and judgment be no more perverted in favor of the rich. There is an intended contrast between the Messiah's rule in this respect, and that of the princes of Judah (Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 3:15; Isaiah 10:1, Isaiah 10:2). Christian countries still, for the most part, follow their Lord's example in this particular, if in no other, having judges that are incorruptible, and tribunals that are free from any leaning against the poor. Reprove; or, plead (as in Job 16:21). The meek of the earth; rather, the humble, or afflicted. Low condition, not meekness of spirit, is what the word used expresses. He shall smite the earth. A slight alteration of the text produces the meaning, be shall smite the terrible one (comp. Isaiah 29:20), which improves the parallelism of the clauses. But there is no need of any alteration, parallelism in Isaiah being often incomplete. The Messiah at his coming will "smite the earth" generally (see Malachi 4:6, and comp. Matthew 10:34, "I came not to send peace on the earth, but a sword"), and will also especially chastise "the wicked." The rod of his mouth … the breath of his lips. "The Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). The sayings of Christ pierce the conscience and penetrate the soul as no other words that ever came from a human mouth. In the last day words from his mouth will consign to everlasting life or to everlasting destruction.
Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, etc.; i.e. "righteousness shall be ever with him, ever ready for active use, ever (as it were) bracing him for action." Assuredly, he was "righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works" (Psalms 145:17). Faithfulness (comp. Ephesians 6:14, "Having your loins girt about with truth").
Messiah's kingdom, when fully realized, shall be one of perfect peace. "They shall neither hurt nor destroy in all his holy mountain." Primarily, no doubt, the passage is figurative, and points to harmony among men, who, in Messiah's kingdom, shall no longer prey one upon another (see especially Isaiah 11:9). But, from the highest spiritual standpoint, the figure itself becomes a reality, and it is seen that, if in the "new heavens and new earth" there is an animal creation, it will be fitting that there harmony should equally prevail among the inferior creation. Human sin may not have introduced rapine and violence among the beasts—at least, geologists tell us that animals preyed one upon another long before the earth was the habitation of man—but still man's influence may prevail to eradicate the beasts' natural impulses and educate them to something higher. Already domestication produces an accord and harmony that is in a certain sense against nature. May not this be carried further in the course of ages, and Isaiah's picture have a literal fulfillment? Jerome's scorn of the notion as a poetic dream has about it something harsh and untender. Will not God realize all, and more than all, of love and happiness that poets' dreams can reach to?
The wolf … the leopard … the young lion … the bear are the only ferocious animals of Palestine, where the tiger, the crocodile, the alligator, and the jaguar are unknown. That the Palestinian bear was carnivorous, and a danger to man, appears by Lamentations 3:10; Daniel 7:5; Amos 5:19. A little child shall lead them. Man's superiority over the brute creation shall continue, and even be augmented. The most powerful beasts shall submit to the control of a child.
The lion shall eat straw (comp. Isaiah 65:25). There is nothing impossible in this. Cats are fond of some kinds of vegetable food.
The sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp; rather, by the hole—near it. The "asp" is probably the Coluber Naje of Egypt, whose bite is very deadly. The cockatrice den. The "cockatrice" is another deadly serpent, perhaps the Daboia xanthina (Tristram, 'Natural Hist. of the Bible').
My holy mountain. As the Jewish Church is always bound up with the "holy hill of Zion," so the Messianic one receives the designation of "the mountain of the Lord" (Isaiah 2:3; Isaiah 30:29; Micah 4:2), or "the holy mountain" (Zechariah 8:3). What was physically true of the type is transferred to the antitype, which is "a city set upon a hill" in a certain sense. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord (romp. Habakkuk 2:14; Joel 2:28; Matthew 28:1-20 :29). A fruitful knowledge, guiding and influencing conduct, seems to be intended (see below, Isaiah 54:13, "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children"). As the waters cover the sea; i.e. "as the ocean covers and fills the bed prepared for it."
THE JEWS AND GENTILES SHALL BE GATHERED TOGETHER INTO MESSIAH'S KINGDOM. It is characteristic of "the evangelical prophet" that he dwells earnestly and frequently on the calling of the Gentiles (see Isaiah 2:2; Isaiah 19:22-25; Isaiah 25:6; Isaiah 27:13, etc.). The prophecies to Abraham had repeatedly declared that "in him," or "in his seed," "all the families of the earth should be blessed" (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4); and some of the psalmists had echoed the glad sound and spoken of God as worshipped generally by "the nations" (Psalms 117:1; Psalms 148:11). But the idea had taken little hold upon the chosen people generally; and was practically new to them when Isaiah was inspired to preach it afresh. To render it the more palatable, he unites with it the promise of a great gathering of the dispersed Israelites from all quarters to the banner of Messiah, when it is set up.
There shall he a root of Jesse. The "root" of this place is the same as the "rod" and "branch" of Isaiah 11:1. The "rod" springs up out of a "root," and is inseparably connected with it. Which shall stand for an ensign of the people; rather, of the peoples. The "rod" shall lift itself up, and become an ensign, seen from afar, and attracting to itself the attention of "the peoples" or "nations" generally. The Acts and Epistles show how speedily this prophecy was fulfilled. Greeks, Romans, Galatians, Cappadoeians, Babylonians (1 Peter 5:13), saw the ensign, and sought to it. His rest shall be glorious; rather, his resting-place; i.e. his Church, with which he abides forever (Matthew 28:20). The Shechinah of his presence makes the Church "glorious" (literally, "a glory") throughout all ages; but the glory will not fully appear till the time of the "new heavens and new earth" (Isaiah 65:17; Roy. 21; 22.), when he will dwell visibly with it.
The Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover, etc. The first recovery was from the servitude in Egypt. Isaiah now foresees that there will be a dispersion of the Israelites through several distant lands, instead of a mere transference of them from one land to another, as in Jacob's time (Genesis 46:1-29). God, who brought them out of Egypt, will likewise some day "set his hand" to recover them from the various countries through which they will have been dispersed, and restore them to their own land once more. The first fulfillment of the prophecy was undoubtedly, the return from the Babylonian captivity. A secondary fulfillment may have been the gathering of so many Jews from all quarters into the Christian Church (Acts 2:9-41). It is possible that there may be ultimately a further fulfillment in a final gathering together of Israel into their own land. From Assyria. Assyria is placed first because already the bulk of the Israelites, as distinct from the Jews, had been carried into Assyria by Tiglath-Pileser (2 Kings 15:29) and Sargon (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:11), and were captives there at the time when Isaiah wrote. The transportation of Israelites to the other places mentioned was subsequent to his day. Egypt … Pathros. There was a great migration of Jews into Egypt in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 43:7; Jeremiah 44:1), and a steady influx for some generations under the early Ptolemies. There was also a second large migration in the time of Onias. The Jewish element in Alexandria for some centuries both before and after Christ was very considerable. Pathros was probably a portion of Upper Egypt, perhaps the Phaturite nome, which was the district about Thebes. It is mentioned as the residence of certain Jews in the time of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 44:1, Jeremiah 44:15). From Cush. "Cush" here may he either the African or the Asiatic. It is slightly in favor of the African that we hear in the Acts of an Ethiopian eunuch who was a Jew in the service of Candace, Queen of the African Ethiopia (Acts 8:27). And it is against the Asiatic that it was so remote. It adjoined, however, upon Elam. From Elam, and from Shinar. "Elam" was the fertile tract of alluvial land to the east of the Tigris, between that stream and the mountains, parallel with Babylonia. Its capital was Susa, and in Isaiah's time it was an important country, frequently at war with Assyria. Shinar was an ancient name of Babylonia (Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:1-9). The word is used also by Daniel (Daniel 1:2) and Zechariah (Zechariah 5:11). Some regard it as meaning "the land of the two fleers." From Hamath. (On this town, see note to Isaiah 10:9.) From the islands of the sea; i.e. the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean. During the Maccabee period, there was a gradual spread of Jews over the Western world. Alliances were made with Rome end Sparta (1 Macc. 8:1; 12:2-21; 14:20-23, etc.), and Jews became familiar with both Greece and Italy. St. Paul finds numerous Jews at Rome, and in almost every city of Greece.
He shall set up an ensign for the nations (comp. Isaiah 11:10). Christ is the Ensign. God sets it up to draw the nations to his standard. The outcasts of Israel … the dispersed of Judah. "Outcasts" is masculine, "the dispersed" feminine. The meaning is, "He shall gather together the outcasts and dispersed of both Israel and Judah, both male and female."
The envy also of Ephraim shall depart. In the kingdom of the Prince of Peace there shall no longer be quarrels or jealousies among the members. Old feuds shall be put aside; the northern and southern tribes shall agree together, and there shall be peace and harmony throughout the entire Church. Adversaries of Judah. If any such remain among the Ephraimites, Divine vengeance shall "cut them off," that there be no open disturbance of the harmony.
THE UNITED CHURCH SHALL TRIUMPH OVER ITS ENEMIES. PHYSICAL OBSTACLES TO ITS UNION GOD WILL REMOVE. Israel's most persistent enemies had been the border-nations of the Philistines, the Edomites, the Arabs, Moab and Ammon. These are now taken as types of the enemies of the Church, and victory over them is promised (Isaiah 11:14). A further promise is made that physical difficulties shall not prevent the return of the Jewish exiles from distant countries (Isaiah 11:15, Isaiah 11:16).
They shall fly upon the shoulders of the philistines. It is not to be supposed that actual war is intended. The subjects of the Prince of Peace will not draw the sword. But the Church will for many centuries be confronted by enemies, and must contend with them with legitimate weapons. It is this warfare of which Isaiah now speaks. The united Church will be strong enough to assail her enemies on all sides, and will "swoop" upon the border country of the Philistines like a bird of prey. They shall spoil them of the east; or, the Beni Kedem. The phrase is commonly used in an ethnic sense of the nomadic Arabs inhabiting the deserts east of Jordan, beyond the Ammonite and Moabite country, from whose raids Palestine frequently suffered (see Jeremiah 49:28, Jeremiah 49:29; Ezekiel 25:4, Ezekiel 25:10).
The Lord shall utterly destroy; rather, shall lay under a curse (Aquila, ἀναθεματίσει). The tongue of the Egyptian sea. Either the Gulf of Suez or that of Akabah. God shall do away with those obstacles which keep the nations apart and prevent ready intercourse. Both gulfs are thought to have extended anciently considerably further inland than they do at present. With his mighty wind; rather, with the might of his breath (in fortitudine spiritus sui, Vulgate). Shall he shake his hand. A gesture of menace (comp. Isaiah 10:32). Over the river. "The river" (hun-nahar) is, as usually, the Euphrates, the great river of Western Asia. And smite it in the seven streams; rather, and smite it into seven streams; i.e. divide its waters among seven channels, so that it may be readily forded, and cease to be a barrier. Dry-shod; literally, in their shoes; i.e. without taking them off;
There shall be an highway. This is the object in view—the free and unhindered passage of his people from the various regions where they are scattered (Isaiah 11:11) to their resting-place in Palestine.
The spiritual nature of Messiah's perfections.
It was certainly not from Isaiah that the Jews derived their notion that the Messiah would be a mighty temporal prince, the leader of armies, who would break the yoke of Rome from off their shoulders, and give them dominion over all the nations of the earth. Isaiah does, indeed, announce him as a King (Isaiah 32:1), and could do no less, since he was indeed "King of kings, and Lord of lords." But he ever puts forward his spiritual character, his influence over men as a Teacher, his moral and mental excellences. Messiah's qualifications for his high office (as here enumerated) are—
I. HIS POSSESSION OF WISDOM. "Wisdom" here may be that transcendental quality whereby God "established the heavens" (Proverbs 3:19; Proverbs 8:27); or possibly that still more recondite faculty which Jehovah "possessed in the beginning of his way, before his works of old" (Proverbs 8:22). Being distinguished from "understandings" "counsel," and "knowledge of God," it must apparently be supra-mundane and abstract—a power of which it is difficult for man to form a conception. Its sphere cannot be human life or mundane affairs, but the purely intellectual world of supra-sensuous ideas and concepts.
II. HIS POSSESSION OF UNDERSTANDING. By "understanding" seems to he meant moral intelligence—the power of appreciating the moral character, and judging aright the moral conduct of others. Our Lord possessed this quality in the most eminent degree, never misjudging the character or conduct of any one. His unerring insight gave him an absolute fitness to be the final Judge of men, but was far beyond what is needed by any earthly ruler or king.
III. HIS POSSESSION OF THE SPIRIT OF COUNSEL. Here, no doubt, is a quality of which a temporal ruler has need; but it was not as a temporal ruler, or for the most part in temporal matters, that our Lord's counsel was given. The maxims of his lips were not maxims of worldly policy, but such as these: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;" "Take no thought for the morrow;" "Sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor," and the like. He counseled men for their spiritual rather than for their worldly good, with a view to a spiritual and not a temporal kingdom.
IV. HIS POSSESSION OF MIGHT. "Might," or ability to execute his designs, is, again, a quality of high value to an earthly ruler; and had our Lord used his might for earthly ends, he might easily have been all, and more than all, that the Jews expected. But he ever restrained himself from any exhibition of physical strength, or power of organization, or even of persuasive eloquence, exhibiting his might only for spiritual cuds, in miracles of mercy, whereby he sought to win men's souls to himself, or once and again in miracles of power, shown forth as evidences of his mission.
V. HIS POSSESSION OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. None could know God's will so well as he, who "was in the beginning with God, and was God" (John 1:1). Partaker from everlasting of his Father's counsels, the instrument whereby the Father worked in bringing all things into being (Hebrews 1:2), he had sounded all the depths of that nature which he had in common with the Father, and knew even as he was known. This was spiritual knowledge of the highest kind, and enabled him to be man's perfect spiritual Guide, capable of setting before him the true and "perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2) as none other ever was, or will be, capable.
VI. HIS POSSESSION OF THE FEAR OF GOD. "Fear" in the Son is doubtless so mingled with love as to be something very different even from the fear which the angels feel, when they veil their faces before the throne. But the words "Father" and "Son" imply authority and submission, awfulness and reverence. And the human nature of Christ had the same experience of the "fear of God" as belongs to his perfected saints, whether in earth or heaven (Psalms 19:9; Psalms 34:9; Ecclesiastes 12:13, etc.). "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy Name?" Messiah's "fear" brought forth that perfect obedience which made him "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26), and constituted him at once our perfect Pattern and our meritorious Sacrifice.
Isaiah 11:10, Isaiah 11:12
God's mercy in bringing the Gentiles into his kingdom.
In the old world, when "all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth," God sent forth a fierce destruction, and swept away the entire human race, excepting eight persons. After the Flood he promised, of his own free grace, that he would never so destroy mankind again (Genesis 9:11-15). But it was open to him to have sent upon the world some other equally severe visitation, and to have once more rid the earth of "a seed of evildoers." The general corruption of the Gentile world, when Christ came, was excessive. It is scarcely possible that the corruption of the antediluvians can have been greater. As a modern historian sums up his account of heathendom at the coming of Christ, "Corruption had attained its full tide at the commencement of the second century. Vices gnawed at the marrow of nations, and, above all, of the Romans: their national existence was more than menaced; the moral sickness had become a physical one in its effects—a subtle poison penetrating into the vitals of the state; and, as before in the sanguinary civil wars, so now the lords of the world seemed minded to destroy themselves by their vices. Men were denuded of all that was really good, and, surrounded on all sides by the thick clouds of a blinded conscience, they caught with wild eagerness at the grossest sensual enjoyments, in the wild tumult of which they plunged to intoxication". Or take St. Paul's account of the condition of the heathen when he began his preaching: "As men did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, deceit, debate, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:28-32). Yet, instead of destroying this polluted race, God had compassion on them, and went out of his way to seek them.
I. HE LIFTED UP CHRIST TO THEM AS AN ENSIGN FROM AFAR. By the manifestation of Christ's character in the Gospels, he set them up a Pattern which they could not but admire, which drew them irresistibly by its purity and loveliness, made them hate themselves, and brought them low on their knees before his footstool.
II. HE OFFERED HIS GOSPEL FREELY TO THEM FROM THE FIRST. "Go, disciple ye all nations, baptizing them;" "Preach the gospel to every creature;" "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved." There was no limit, no favoritism; no offer of salvation only to those who had acted up to their previous light.
III. HE RAISED UP A SPECIAL TEACHER, SPECIALLY QUALIFIED, TO BE "THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES." What impression Christianity would have made on the Gentile world without St. Paul, or some one similarly qualified, it is difficult to say. Conceivably, it might have taken merely the dimensions of a Jewish sect, which believed that the Messiah had come. St. Paul, raised up for the purpose, lifted it above the sphere of Jewish controversy into world-wide consideration. Teaching personally at Antioch, at Ephesus, at Athens, at Corinth, at Rome, disputing with philosophers, converting members of Caesar's household, he gave it a position among the religions of the world which could not be ignored by later educated inquirers. The apostle of the Gentiles spread Christianity from Syria to Rome, perhaps to Spain, and gave it that hold upon the attention of the educated classes which secured, under God's blessing, its ultimate triumph.
The Church's triumph over its enemies.
The Church of God will always have its enemies, both internal and external, and its external enemies will from time to time gather their hosts, and unite themselves together, and threaten it with destruction. Great was Israel's peril, and great her fear, when her enemies "consulted together with one consent, and were confederate against her: the tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Asshur also joining them, and helping the children of Lot" (Psalms 83:5-8). Yet the danger passed, the confederacy failed, the various nations were "confounded and troubled; they were put to shame and perished" (Psalms 83:17). So it is with the Church. Our Lord has promised that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18); and consequently its enemies labor in vain to effect its destruction. The Church may have confidence—
I. SINCE CHRIST IS HER HEAD. She is "his Church," "built by him," "upon a Rock," i.e. himself; purchased by him with his own blood; loved and cherished and purified by him, that she may be presented to him "without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing"—his city, his body, his bride.
II. SINCE SHE HAS A SURE WORD OF PROMISE.
1. In the statement, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
2. In the passage concerning the gates of hell.
3. In the clear declarations of the apocalyptic vision, which show her ultimate triumph.
III. SINCE SHE HAS PASSED THROUGH PERILS AS GREAT AS ANY THAT CAN HEREAFTER ASSAIL HER.
1. The peril of the imperial persecutions.
2. The peril of the barbarian invasions (Goths, Huns, Vandals, etc.).
3. The peril of Mohammedanism.
4. The peril of the dark ages.
5. The peril involved in unlimited private judgment.
6. The peril of the French Revolution. Half a score of times has she seemed on the point of succumbing; bat each time that she is struck to the ground, she rises, like Antares, refreshed and reinvigorated.
HOMILIES BY E. JOHNSON
The coming of the Messiah.
I. HIS ORIGIN. "From Ishai's worn stem a shoot will sprout forth, and a green branch burst forth from his roots." From the stock of David, now fallen very low, the coming Deliverer will arise in all the vigor of youth. Seldom does the great man come but of some pure and generous strain of blood. Like some stream which, long hidden underground, reappears again in the daylight, or some vein of precious ore, recovered after some extensive "fault," so it was believed the royal race and the spiritual prowess of David might be obscured for ages, but must be illustrated before the world again. As God saves and blesses the world by means of great men, so in a measure is this true of houses, families, tribes, and nations. There is a principle of providential selection running through life. Though men be of one blood in all their tribes, it is not to be denied that there are different qualities in that blood. Hence noblesse oblige, and great endowments make great expectations and imply great responsibilities. The thought of the seeming extinction, yet destined revival of David's house, may remind us of the imperishableness of the germs of good. David's house was never restored to the throne in the visible sense. Yet the memory of David persisted, begot hope, inspired patience, and was gradually converted into one of the mightiest of spiritual forces in the conscience of the nation. An idea may pass through many changes of form, but it dies not so long as the faith and passion of the heart in which it sprung are living.
II. His SPIRIT. In the religious mode of thought a true temper of the mind is to be traced to Divine inspiration, no less than the great physical or mental ability. What meaning lies in our common expressions, "a gift," "an endowment," "a talent," "an influence!" None of them but is deeply religious, if we trace them to their primary felt significance. Upon this chosen one there "rests the Spirit of Jehovah." And three characters, in the iterative idiom of the Hebrew, are given of this spirit. It is that
III. THE BLESSINGS OF HIS RULE. There will be a marvelous growth of peace and prosperity. The progress of true culture is marked by the subduing of savagery. The wild animals change their nature and become harmless to mankind. Wickedness is ferocious; men's untamed passions are like the wolf, the bear, and the deadly serpent. There will be no sin nor sinners in Zion, because the knowledge of the true God wilt be all-diffused and all-inexhaustible as the ocean. To what state of life do these predictions refer? To the advent of Christ and his kingdom? Certainly; and yet when Christ came, not only did not universal peace set in, but the light of Zion and the glories of the sacred city were quenched in blood. And Christ himself opened up a gloomy perspective of the future in his closing prophecies. Where, then, and when this scene of bliss? Let us content ourselves with believing that the prophecy refers to some state to us unknown. Earth will be earth, and not heaven. This heaven is in the soul first; there we dream of it, nay, we realize it as we listen to the prophet's glowing words, and believe that but a step may carry us into a world where it is realized by all. The prophecy is already fulfilled for us if God has made a heaven of hope in oar hearts.—J.
Judah and the nations.
I. HONOR TO THE ROOT OF JUDAH. The scion from the ancient trunk will be honored far and wide among the heathen, because of those virtues already described in the preceding section. It will be a banner to which they will flock, a center of light and living oracles.
II. REDEMPTION OF THE REMNANT. The mighty hand of Jehovah will be stretched forth to gather the scattered ones from all the four quarters of their dispersion. When the banner is raised, the heathen will own its power and the captives will be released.
III. INTERNAL UNITY. The two great tribes will remain side by side, but then enmity will cease. The recent destruction of Samaria had been caused by that enmity; which ceasing, it will be found that union is strength, and the nations will submit on the West and East. And those great threatening neighbors, Egypt and Assyria, will feel the weight of Jehovah's hand and the punishment which the word of his mouth inflicts. And as the great river is smitten into seven fordable streams, the company of pilgrims will flow back, a way made for them by the hand of their God, as in the days of their forefathers, and the exodus from Egypt. The scion from the old stump may be taken as a figure of the revival of true religion in times of decay. And such revival means the union of long-sundered hearts, the recognition of an internal unity among all the faithful, the restoration of influence, and the dismay of the ungodly world.—J.
HOMILIES BY W.M. STATHAM
The rest of Christ.
"And his rest shall be glorious." This chapter commences with the full Messianic strain. "There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse;" and the music swells, in the Hebrew rhythm of thought, into a sublime prophecy of the reign of Christ. This "root of Jesse" is to be "an ensign of the people," and "to it shall the Gentiles seek." We are thus led to understand the words, "his rest," as applying to the triumph of the Savior.
I. MANY IDEAS OR FORMS OF REST ARE INGLORIOUS. They are connected with mere military conquest. There is the peace of subjection, or there is the peace of compromise, or there is the peace which belongs to the desert and the wilderness, when they are simply let alone. But Christ's peace is his own beautiful peace of nature. "My peace I give unto you." His rest is not artificial. It is the rest of holy expectation. He sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied.
II. THIS GLORY IS PROSPECTIVE AS WELL AS PRESENT. It "shall be glorious." The golden age of the gospel is in the future. "From henceforth expecting;" "He must reign." It will be a glorious rest. For truth will conquer error. Right will conquer might. Love will have victory over all forms of division and hate. It shall be; for Christ hath spoken it. It shall be; for he has all power in heaven and earth. It shall be on spiritual grounds; for the mightiest moral force ever and always triumphs in the end.
III. THIS REST OF CHRIST IS OUR REST TOO. We have not only received forgiveness through the cross, but newness of life as well. We have rest now, not in its fullness, but in its ideal; for we have the mind of Christ. We have within us the kingdom and patience of Christ; we are one with the Father through Christ. "I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one."—W.M.S.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
Characteristics of Jesus Christ.
The expression of the prophet, "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him," has a very close correspondence with the New Testament references to Jesus Christ (Matthew 3:16; Luke 4:1, Luke 4:14, Luke 4:18; John 3:34). This full possession by our Lord of the Spirit of God revealed itself, and is still found, in these particulars which the prophecy indicates.
I. His PERFECT PIETY. In him dwelt the "fear of the Lord" without measure (Isaiah 11:2), and he "delighted in the fear of Jehovah;" "the fear of Jehovah was fragrance to him" (emended readings for, "and shall make him of quick understanding," etc; Isaiah 11:3). He could say, "I delight to do thy will … yea, thy Law is within my heart" (Psalms 40:8). To reverence, to please, to obey God, to consult his will and be subject to it, was the law of his life and the refreshment of his spirit.
II. His INTUITIVE PERCEPTION OF THE BEST AND HIGHEST. In "him was the spirit of wisdom and understanding." He distinguished at once the false from the true, the glittering show from the genuine good, the passing pleasure from the abiding joy, the fictitious gain from the invaluable heritage, the vanity of earthly honors from the blessedness of the Divine favor. Christ saw all things on which he looked in their actual and essential nature, and in their true proportions. Hence—
III. HIS EXCELLENCY AS OUR GUIDE. In him was "the spirit of counsel" (see Homily on 'Chief counsels of Christ,' Isaiah 9:6).
IV. His KNOWLEDGE OF THE DIVINE AND OF THE FUTURE. Fallen, degenerate man, with conscience defiled and reason depraved, could know nothing certainly of these two supreme subjects: he wanted, urgently and imperatively, one who had "the spirit of knowledge" in him, and could tell him distinctly and finally, not what he guessed or what he hoped, but what he knew. This Jesus did. He revealed the Divine Father unto men (Matthew 11:27; John 1:18; John 10:15). And he made known to us the truth as to the future; he brought life and immortality out into the light (John 5:28, John 5:29; John 11:25, John 11:26; 2 Timothy 1:10).
V. HIS PROFOUND KNOWLEDGE OF THE HUMAN HEART. He judged men, "not by the outward appearance," not "by the sight of his eyes or the hearing of his ears," but by looking down through the coverlet of the flesh, through the armory of speech, into the secret chambers of the soul. He not only saw through the fig tree, but through the flesh, and knew Nathanael's simplicity of spirit "He knew what was in man" and knows now, discerning the hollowness of some men s pretensions, appreciating the excellency beneath some men's doubts and diffidences.
VI. HIS ABSOLUTE IMPARTIALITY. (Isaiah 11:4.) He had one measure for the rich and the poor, for the mighty and the meek; he showed unvarying kindness towards the humblest, and he showed a constant readiness to receive those who were enriched with worldly wealth, or endowed with social honor. The testimony of his enemies was true enough; he "regarded not the person of men" (Mark 12:14). Such is the genius of his gospel—"the common salvation" (see 1 Corinthians 3:11; Galatians 3:28; Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 6:8).
VII. HIS RIGOROUS RIGHTEOUSNESS. (Isaiah 11:4, Isaiah 11:5.) Christ, in his righteousness, demanded the spiritual service of all men, and he condemned all that withheld it. He showed himself the determined enemy of evil.
1. He denounced it in scathing terms when he was with us (see Matthew 23:1-39.).
2. He announces himself as the Judge of all, who will punish the impenitent according, to their, deeds (see Matthew 25:1-46.)
VIII. His FAITHFULNESS. (Isaiah 11:5.) Having loved his own, he loved them—to the end. He "never leaves nor forsakes" those who serve him. Throughout our fidelity to him his love to us is constant; in the time of our slackness or departure he visits us in his faithfulness with his kind correction, in order to attach us to himself, or to call us back to his side; in the hour of our suffering he makes good his presence of Divine support; when everything earthly fails us, the faithful Promiser will fulfill his word, and receive us to himself, that we may dwell in his glory.—C.
The intensive and extensive power of the gospel.
I. THE INTENSIVE POWER OF DIVINE TRUTH. More power is needful
1. Individual instances abound of the conversion of notorious drunkards, of savage prize-fighters, of shameless courtesans, of ribald atheists, of those who were abandoned by all, and who abandoned themselves to hopeless sin, of men who were the terror of their tribe or of their district, etc. Therefore we need not and we should not despair of those who are living amongst us, and who are at present a long way off from truth and righteousness. The gospel of Christ can change the very nature of these—can tame the most ferocious, can raise the most fallen, can liberate the most enslaved, can make beautiful the most deformed of the children of men; it can do so by the power of the truth and of the Spirit of God.
2. Families, societies, communities have undergone as complete a transformation.
II. THE EXTENSIVE RANGE OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. (Isaiah 11:9.) What a vast void would there be if the waters were withdrawn! Into what profound depths should we look down! What mighty stretches of sand and clay and rock would be disclosed! What lengths and breadths are covered, what depths are now filled up by the abounding waters of the sea! As containing the element of life to millions of living creatures, as supplying a highway for the nations of the earth, and as providing scope for the ambition, courage, and enterprise of man, what a grand sufficiency do we see in the waters of the ocean! So shall it prove to be with Divine truth. There shall be seen to be a sufficiency, in the gospel of the Savior, to cover the entire earth, to meet the wants of the whole population of the globe. No land so remote, no clime so rigorously cold or scorchingly hot, no interior so impenetrable, no barbarism so rude, no prejudice so inveterate, but that the gospel of Christ shall cover it with its benignant power.
1. Let us rejoice in the earnest of its fulfillment; great things have been a